Earlier I hinted at the beginnings of a research project, and this past January I gave thanks for experiencing, for the first time, inclusive communion that included me. During the last few weeks of the semester I became very excited about my Master’s research project — in short, “inclusive communion.” I will be researching and writing about inclusive communion both in regards to the elements being inclusive to all, including those with a variety of allergies or health issues (with my main focus at this point being gluten free bread and alcohol-free wine, but I invite readers to share about other issues as well), as well as being inclusive in terms of those invited to commune at the table.
To those that know me or have read much of what I publish via social media it may seem obvious that this is a very personal issue for me since I have been restricted to a gluten-free diet for about 4 years now. What some may not know is that inclusive in the sense of who comes to the table is also a very personal issue for me. I grew up in a church that practices “close communion.” I no longer share the belief that the practice of “close communion” is what Christ intended communion to be (in spite of taking proof text quotes from scripture). However, I have been uncomfortable talking about it openly outside of my seminary community. After all I many friends and family members that still practice close communion (or other beliefs I disagree with). It’s time that I learn to talk about these differences. It’s time I own my own beliefs. It’s also time that I dig *deeply* into the theology of the sacrament of Holy Communion.
I won’t go into many details here at this point, after all I have years of research and writing ahead of me (graduating Spring 2015). Yet, I will share brief points along the way, and I want to invite readers to comment here —
I am especially looking for stories, including specific places I can contact or visit, that do practice inclusive communion in some form (gluten free or in an open invitation to the table or in another way meaningful to participants). I also invite those of you that have felt excluded (intentionally or not) to share your stories. If needed I will open an additional forum to do so.
Please also share stories of how your or other congregations you are familiar with have begun to address this even if it is baby steps — how is gluten free communion handled? do you use alcohol free wine? is it easy for those with disabilities or other physical impairments to participate in communion? Any other thoughts?
Love and belief~
I’m currently preparing for my last class before our Easter break. This means that I am studying research methods and preparing to talk about what I want to write about in my research project. In some ways this seems a bit premature to me since I don’t plan to graduate with my Masters until Spring 2015 (taking a year before my final year to do a chaplain residency). Yet, in addition to this being a requirement for all MA students, I realize that if I want to tie this capstone project into my seminary education as completely as possible I really should begin forming my questions and begin researching. More to tumble around in my mind. There are so many topics I could write about, and yet a classmate helped me realize there is one that I am passionate about that I have been hiding from every chance I get, so there it is and that is what I will start formulating a research question around (stay tuned). More to tumble around in my mind as if Systematic theology didn’t cause my head to explode enough this morning (did I mention that it is at 7:30 a.m.?)
Now that that is out of the way — my top ten list of gratitude is in order for today
- being held accountable not only by classmates as well as professors
- having a classmate interested and attuned enough to inspire a direction in my theological research
- living in a community that celebrates life milestones and every day moments
- being (and feeling) in synch with my husband throughout the chaos that is this semester
- not having an unmanageable headache for days now (long-time readers should have predicted this would turn very practical)
- that I do not have to drive by myself on Easter Sunday (Shawn will do much of the driving; this is the only way we go up and back in one day and spend more time in the car than with family … although by next year we can let me teen daughter do some of the driving too!)
- that Easter beak = catch up on reading, research, writing, housework … and hopefully with a few other things on the growing to-do list like taxes, online training for CPE, communicating with friends…
- that (last we heard) my father-in-law is recovering well and should be released from the hospital well before Easter (although I wish we could see them on Easter)
- that my daughter Nessa, now 7!, was blessed with a wonderful party of friends and caring adults celebrating with us and I didn’t have to enter a loud bouncy or kids games place to make her dream of a great party come true — just a handmade sign decorated by the kids, balloons (lots), cake, and a #7 candle
- That we have come together as a family nightly throughout lent to read the New Testament scriptures, and by doing this I have observed just how much children to hear and understand! Blessed be!
It has been different being here at Seminary during Lent this year. We have not been able to participate in the weekly church lenten services on Wednesday night (or at noon) that we always participated in and held sacred in recent previous years. At time being here and not in our home church during Lent was harder than it was earlier in the year, as Lent Bible studies and fellowship were always ver special to many of us at Good Shepherd in La Crosse. I tried to take that sacred space with me as I existed here in a different type of reality and observance this year.
I am thankful that we will be worshiping Easter morning with our Good Shepherd family (10:30 service) and then celebrating at my family’s farm. I am thankful for all of you accompanying me on this journey.
Love and belief~